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Falcatakely forsterae gen. et sp. nov. (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Patrick M. O'Connor, Alan H. Turner, Joseph R. Groenke, Ryan N. Felice, Raymond R. Rogers, David W. Krause & Lydia J. Rahantarisoa, 2020

Late Cretaceous bird from Madagascar reveals unique development of beaks

Nature in press doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2945-x.

Abstract: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2945-x

Mesozoic birds display considerable diversity in size, flight adaptations and feather organization but exhibit relatively conserved patterns of beak shape and development. Although Neornithine (that is, crown group) birds also exhibit constraint on facial development they have comparatively diverse beak morphologies associated with a range of feeding and behavioural ecologies, in contrast to Mesozoic birds. Here we describe a crow-sized stem bird, Falcatakely forsterae gen. et sp. nov., from the Late Cretaceous epoch of Madagascar that possesses a long and deep rostrum, an expression of beak morphology that was previously unknown among Mesozoic birds and is superficially similar to that of a variety of crown-group birds (for example, toucans). The rostrum of Falcatakely is composed of an expansive edentulous maxilla and a small tooth-bearing premaxilla. Morphometric analyses of individual bony elements and three-dimensional rostrum shape reveal the development of a neornithine-like facial anatomy despite the retention of a maxilla–premaxilla organization that is similar to that of nonavialan theropods. The patterning and increased height of the rostrum in Falcatakely reveals a degree of developmental lability and increased morphological disparity that was previously unknown in early branching avialans. Expression of this phenotype (and presumed ecology) in a stem bird underscores that consolidation to the neornithine-like, premaxilla-dominated rostrum was not an evolutionary prerequisite for beak enlargement



Fred Ruhe

Well-known member

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Systematic palaeontology

Theropoda Marsh, 1881
Paraves Sereno, 1997
Avialae Gauthier, 1986
Ornithothoraces Chiappe, 1995
Enantiornithes Walker, 1981

Falcatakely forsterae gen. et sp. nov.

Holotype. Partial cranium (University of Antananarivo, UA 10015), which consists of the rostrum, palate and periorbital regions

Etymology. Falcata’ (from Latin falcatus), meaning armed with a scythe, in reference to the shape of the rostrum; ‘kely’ (Malagasy), meaning small; ‘forsterae’, in recognition of Catherine A. Forster’s contributions to work on Madagascan paravians.

Locality and horizon. Locality MAD05-42, Berivotra Study Area, Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian; 72.1–66 million years ago) Anembalemba Member, Maevarano Formation, Mahajanga Basin, Northwestern Madagascar.

Diagnosis. Differs from other paravians on the basis of the following combination of features (indicates autapomorphies): extended, high maxilla that forms the dorsal contour of the rostrum; dimpled texture on the nasal and lacrimal, particularly on the triangular caudodorsal process of the latter*; lacrimal with caudally expanded ventral process*; large, flat jugal process of the postorbital*. Further differs from most avialans by: a long, straight quadratojugal process of the jugal; antorbital fenestra nearly as long as tall. Further differs from other enantiornithines by: premaxilla slots into an extended V-shaped sulcus of the maxilla*; narrow rostrum (width at premaxilla–maxilla junction estimated at around 15% maximum width at rostral margin of orbit); a nasal with distinct fossa near the rostral end*.


Fig. 1 | Cranium of the Cretaceous enantiornithine bird Falcatakely
(UA 10015, holotype). a, Photograph of the specimen, with a right lateral view of the pre-orbital region (right side of the image) and a ventral view of the palatal region (left side of the image). b, Digital polygon reconstruction
from the microcomputed tomography scan of the specimen shown in a. c, Digital polygon reconstruction of the specimen with most elements in b
placed in near-life position in right lateral view. Scale bar, 1 cm (ac). d, Reconstruction (not to scale) illustrating the preserved (in white) elements of the cranium. Left (l) and right (r) sides are indicated. AOF, antorbital fenestra; ect, ectopterygoid; EN, external nares; ITF, infratemporal fenestra; jpmx, jugal process of the maxilla; ju, jugal; lc, lacrimal; mpmx, midline premaxilla; mx, maxilla; na, nasal; pal, palatine; pmx, premaxilla; po, postorbital; pter, pterygoid; qj, quadratojugal; sr, scleral ring; to, tooth.

Extended Data Fig. 4 | Majority -rule tree of Falcatakely among avialans from the Bayesian analysis of a modified matrix that was previously published.


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Rafael S. Nascimento
Some interesting blog posts about this new taxon:

Falcatakely: eterodossia e pluralismo nell'Anno di Oculudentavis

Falcatakely è il cranio di Rahonavis?

Is Falcatakely a bird?

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